Hanoi: about chic- & street-food.
The last story about our Asia holiday is about food. We stayed two nights in Hanoi and had two totally different dinners. One night at the chic “Green Tangerine Restaurant” and the other night eating the famous Hanoi street food.
We arrived at the 5-star Apricot Hotel around 3 p.m. What a gorgeous place to stay for the last two days of our holiday! This luxury hotel in neo-classical design is located a few steps away from the city’s iconic Hoan Kiem lake. The hotel pays homage to Vietnam’s finest artists by showcasing original artwork.
What a pity that it was too cold to have a swim at the roof terrace.
We wanted to explore the city centre that afternoon. The Hanoi streets are packed with scooters, bicycles and cars swarming around pedestrians like a school of fish. Crossing the street is difficult and dangerous. For the most part, Hanoi has no traffic lights, except on major thoroughfares, and no stop or yield signs. Traffic moves along at about 25 kilometer-per-hour; sometimes a little faster and sometimes slower, depending on the time of day. Traffic accidents are a serious problem in Vietnam. Some 95 percent of registered vehicles are motorbikes or scooters. More than three million scooters! The nation has a very high traffic death toll rate. Between 11,000 and 16,000 per year!
It was worth 3 hours drivng from Halong to Hanoi, but now we have seen it, we would not go there again.
That night we went to The Old Quarter, where we ate at the famous “Green Tangerine Restaurant” which offers “French food with a Vietnamese twist”. This fusion cooking was really inspiring!
Johan ordered for his starter “Duck breast carpaccio (raw) in red fruits’ dressing, served with gizzard candied in ginger, sesame biscuits and mushroom flower” and for his main course he ordered “Australian imported steak, crusted with 5 spices pepper sauce, served with potatoes Dauphine style of beetroots, ngo herbs, carrots and lime”.
My starter was “Three ways of duck: sushi of duck confit with basil leaves, nem of duck French stuffing, duck liver mousse in Cognac & Grand Marnier served on a cake of walnuts, raisins and goat cheese” and my main course was: “Rabbit stew in red wine and mushrooms enhanced by tamarind, served with stewed pumpkin and spinach mashed”
It was all very delicious. We were the last ones who left the restaurant, so in my pictures “Green Tangerine” looks empty.
The next day it was raining. We tried to do some shopping, but the weather made us feel miserable and cold, so we went back to our hotel room and watched some movies on Netflix. We had booked that night a “Hanoi Food Tour”. On Trip Advisor we read great reviews about this tour and a lot of times a guide with the name Anna was mentioned. So we asked at the booking office if Anna could guide us through the city.
We met with Anna in front of our hotel. She had brought rain capes for us and one of the first things she asked was:
“Why did you especially ask for me?”
“Well, we read a lot of good reviews and every time your name was mentioned”
Anna is a sweet girl, she does her job with a lot of passion and her English is good.
The first place she took us to was a noodle place. The food was simple but great. And I think we had never dared to go inside on our own. The second place was my favorite. We ate something sweet there “Bánh Trôi Tàu” which means Chinese Floating Rice Cake. It was a ball of sticky rice with a stuffing of roasted sesame seeds in a warm soup of ginger. The ball reminded me of the Austrian Germknödel. Anna explained us that in Vietnam the people don’t really divide meals with starters, main course and desert. You can eat something sweet in the middle instead of at the end.
After our first two stops we went to three or four other places. At the end she wanted us to taste Coffee with egg. But when we finally arrived at her favorite coffee shop, this one was closed. So we went to another one where they did not serve this speciality.
During the tour and during eating the street food we talked about all kind of things. From all the locals we met during our holiday in Thailand and Vietnam, we must say that the Vietnamese people talk more about their personal life. Thai people are very sweet and polite, but Vietnamese people are more open. We talked with Anna about her family and about the wars with China, Japan and The United States. From all tourist visiting Vietnam, the Americans is the largest group. And the Vietnamese people treat them with respect. No hard feelings, no hate.
“But can we now talk about a happy subject and not about the war anymore?” she asked after we kept on asking things about the war.
After the tour she walked with us to the one and only gay bar “The Golden Cock” and we said goodbye. She gave us her Facebook name so we could sent her the pictures.
“Can you please photoshop me a bit?” Anna asked.
“Of course we will. You will look like Anna María Pérez on the pictures!”
Anna’s real name is Giang Nim, but because this was too difficult for the foreign tourists, she changed her name into Anna.
Because friends told her she looked like the actress Anna María Pérez, who plays the role of Ashley Dewitt in Disney’s Hannah Montana.